In a recent Times article, it presented to us the term ‘Fashion Intelligence’ and explained what it meant and who had it.
Fashion intelligence (FI) is the style equivalent: it’s a flair for putting together clothes that exists independent of money or looks, or even trying.
Real FI is also a kind of physical gift. People with high fashion intelligence have a knack for wearing clothes. They hang right on them, crease in the right way; if they roll up a sleeve, undo a button or add a belt, some chemical reaction takes place and you have perfect rightness. It’s the reason Sofia Coppola wears Marc Jacobs better than anyone else.
I have to acknowledge this notion of ‘Fashion Intelligence’ because it’s what separates the good and the bad fashion apples. It’s very instinctive when I insist that the Olsen twins have F.I. whereas the Simpson sisters do not. Or when Chloe Sevigny rocks an outfit, there’s something more behind that oufit than simply a stylist putting it together. Probably most of you here will sense when you’re in the presence of true F.I. and it seems it’s very hard to fake. Nicole Richie seems to do a good job of presenting a facade of F.I. but then of course when you know there’s a Rachel Zoe behind her every look, her F.I. level is immediately diminished.
At the same time though, an article like this serves to reconfirm to a lot of people that fashion is like an exclusive club, you either have an invitation to get in or you don’t, in which case you’ll get turfed out onto the unfashionable streets. Presenting the notion of F.I. would baffle many into thinking ‘Ok….so do I have F.I.?’ which I have a problem with. A lot of people have been asking me (and I don’t flatter myself!) how do I put outfits together, is it a skill and so and so forth. The truth is I have no idea. I personally never learnt it as a skill, nor did I feel like I got more stylish over time because I’ve had the same approach towards dressing ever since I could afford to buy my own clothes. Yet, I don’t wish to say that putting together an outfit is something that can’t possibly be taught.
I would hate to pertain to having a high level of so-called ‘fashion intelligence’ and yet I have no idea how to explain why I wear what I wear and the choices I make. By teaming the words ‘fashion’ and ‘intelligence’ together, begs the question can the ‘skills’ of styling yourself be taught and learnt or is it something intrinsic and instinctive? I’ve yet to meet a person who began as someone who didn’t have style but then got gradually more stylish but surely these people must exist? Perhaps F.I. can be developed over time for a lot of people. Perhaps, for some, they always had it. Perhaps many people will never have it which is no bad thing. Funny how a filler article in the Times prompts so many questions.